Critter of the Week: Green Honeycreeper




Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Thraupidae

Genus: Chlorophanes

Species: C. spiza

Binomial Name: Chlorophanes spiza




The green honeycreeper is a small bird that lives on the edges of tropical rainforests in Brazil, Mexico, and Trinidad. They grow to about 5.5 inches long and are considerably light at only 0.6 ounces.

Green honeycreepers display sexual dimorphism, which means the males and females look different. Male and female green honeycreepers are roughly the same size but have a differing coloration. In fact, their name comes from the appearance of the female’s greener plumage. The male has a black head, red eyes, yellow beak, and feathers that have a blue tint to them, while female honeycreepers have a vivid green appearance, browner eyes, pale neck, and lack the black head. Both sexes have small wings and sharp talons.

Using their sharp talons, the green honeycreeper can firmly hold its grip while reaching for food, while their curved beak makes it easy to eat things like nectar and fruit. Even though it is called a honeycreeper, only about 20% of their diet is made up of nectar. The main part of their food intake is fruit and seeds, and the smallest percentage is insects.

Some honeycreepers prefer to live in pairs while others live in larger groups with other kinds of birds. The larger group provides safety against predators, but the green honeycreepers will still go off alone or in a pair to forage. Even away from a large group, their bright coloration allows them to camouflage against the vegetation to protect them from their main predator, snakes.

Mating season for the green honeycreeper is usually in the spring. Since this species is a forest canopy species, the female will usually build a cup-shaped nest in trees or bushes. Even though the nest is made of things like roots and dry leaves, it is able to hold its cup shape since it is secured with spider webs! She will lay two eggs and incubate them for two weeks. Once they hatch, the chicks will have similar coloring to the females.